A series about what happens when someone who knows nothing about business starts one. With Alex Blumberg from This American Life & Planet Money.
Five years ago, StartUp began chronicling the life of a fledgling Brooklyn-based podcasting company called Gimlet Media. This year, the streaming giant Spotify bought that company. In the final season of StartUp, what it's really like to sell a business. [more inside]
Gimlet co-founders Alex Blumberg and Matt Lieber are pretty much on the same page...right? This week, we put their relationship to the test. Producer Luke Malone got Matt and Alex into separate studios and asked them the same set of questions. Then, Matt and Alex listened back to each other's answers and find out if they're really as in sync as they thought. Do the same things keep them up at night? Do they want the same things for the company? And what were their first impressions of one another? [more inside]
Gary Kremen owned one of the most valuable domain names in the history of the internet. And then one day, he lost it in the most unusual way. For years, Gary fought to win back his domain "sex dot com." The legal battle transformed the way the courts treat virtual property. But in the end, was his lengthy and expensive crusade worth it? [more inside]
Jason from Bento started a business that prepared and delivered pan-Asian meals on demand. Lauren and Emma from Dating Ring wanted to reinvent online dating. Mary from Saint Harridan made sharp suits for masculine women and trans men. And Mike moved food across international borders, evading employees of a large grocery store chain. This episode, we return to some of the companies we followed in previous seasons and find out how their founders are doing—and what the label "entrepreneur" means to them now.
Mokhtar Alkhanshali is trying to produce the perfect cup of coffee. And he's trying to do it with beans grown in the midst of an active war zone in Yemen. Despite those challenges, his company's first batch earned rave reviews, and sold for $16 a cup at one of the fanciest coffee chains around. But can he turn that early success into a profitable business, or will the challenges of trying to achieve perfection using a supply chain that starts halfway around the world do his young company in? [more inside]
You called with your questions. Alex Blumberg has your answers—about growth, diversity at Gimlet and, oh yeah, that ABC sitcom that's currently being made about the first season of StartUp. [more inside]
In 1983 a guy named Stuart Anders invented a toy that would become a huge hit -- one of the biggest fad toys of a generation. But the toy world can be treacherous, and Stuart's big idea left him broke. Now he's back with a new toy and a surprising ally.
In 2003, Jonathan Abrams was sitting atop one of the hottest new companies in Silicon Valley. He and his website were at the forefront of an industry that would eventually be worth more than $400 billion. So, what went wrong? Let's discuss episode 2, the second part of this episode, as well.
Season Finale. Following his ousting from American Apparel, Dov Charney has been eager to restart and launch his new venture. He has assembled the fabric, the equipment, and the people to help make his new clothing line. Now he needs to find his customer base. [more inside]
Alex Blumberg interviews Pat Walters, Eli Horowitz, Marc Smerling, and Zac Stuart-Pontier — the creators of Gimlet's three newest shows. Hear how Gimlet developed these projects and what they are all about. And enjoy some favorite clips as well as sneak peeks from upcoming episodes.
Season 4 of StartUp continues with the story of a well-known entrepreneur who built a widely recognized business, lost it all, and is now starting over—from scratch.Over the next several episodes, we'll hear as this founder makes his second attempt at success, and creates an entirely new company in the shadow of his controversial past. [more inside]
This week, Alex receives feedback about his job performance from his co-workers, friends, and family. Some of it is good, some less so. But there is something else that comes up during the review process that shocks him. We explore what happens when you unpack your emotional baggage—or someone unpacks it for you—and you realize the unexpected effect that it has been having on your team. In this final Gimlet-focused episode of season four, we take a raw and intimate look at a defining moment in the trajectory of a CEO.
Growth. It can be exciting, it can be motivating, and it can be really stressful. In this week's episode, we take a look at the tensions that Gimlet's growth spurt is creating. We speak with the team producing one of our upcoming shows to see what it's really like to build a podcast from the ground up. Each of them is being asked to step up to the plate in a way that they never have before, and some are realizing that the support they expected, it just isn't there. People are pushed to their limits, emotions run high, and things that have remained hitherto unsaid are finally aired. [more inside]
StartUp is back! And we're kicking Season 4 off with an update on what's happening here at Gimlet Media. Since the start of the year, Gimlet has more than doubled in size. And while growth is often the goal for a startup, it also costs a lot of money. In this episode, Alex and his team ask themselves some very scary questions: How are they going to pay for all this growth? And what will happen if they can't? With a larger staff and six new shows launching in the fall, this feels like a particularly pivotal moment at the company. There are big decisions to be made, with potentially even bigger consequences.
A story of asylum, ashes, and acidophilus. [more inside]
The two-part story of ConBody kicks off just as one of the co-founders is about to make his pitch, flashes back to the company's unusual backstory, and then concludes post-pitch. [more inside]
Two men decide to start a company. Everything is going well… until it’s not. That’s the moment they decide to start recording their conversations—painful, awkward, emotional conversations. [more inside]
It’s not uncommon for shoppers to walk out of Mary Going’s store feeling on top of the world. Mary runs Saint Harridan, a company that makes custom suits for the gender non-conforming. With her store, Mary has created a space that caters to the needs of butch women and trans men—something that doesn’t happen very often. Her fans are enthusiastic and dedicated, her products are selling out… and she can barely pay her rent. [more inside]
When a group of college kids in Florida set out to change the music industry, they did not anticipate quite how disruptive they would be. Their mission was a noble one: bring an end to online piracy by offering cheap, convenient, and legal access to music. Their execution, however, was less than thorough. And when you’re dealing with protective music labels, forgetting to dot an “i” or cross a “t” can mean being one lawsuit away from the swift and unceremonious death of your company. [more inside]
A look inside a small, grassroots, international smuggling operation.
It takes 2 percent to make a thing go right.
A backpack, a camera, and a big idea
Lisa Chow comes back from maternity leave and notices some big changes at Gimlet. And these changes... they aren't all for the better. Lisa talks to Gimlet employees about concerns over power, accountability, and control - things that crop up when you go from startup, to regular company. And she takes those concerns to the bosses.
If you were to walk into Gimlet HQ, there are a few things you'd probably notice right off the bat. First, it's crowded - like a grungy dorm room. Second, the lighting... it's not great. Not many windows. Third, it's white. Really white. 24 of Gimlet's 27 employees are white. In this episode, we look at diversity (or lack thereof) at Gimlet. And we try to figure out what diversity should mean for the company going forward.
Gimlet is growing fast. There are four shows on the air, and several others in pre-production. If they want to grow faster, though, they could use some more cash. Matt and Alex head back into the world of venture capital, deciding whether or not to raise another round of financing, this time, much bigger.
Gimlet is starting a new line of business, and it's a complicated one: Branded content. As we see in this episode, there are some very real anxieties about how to do this right.
Gimlet is making a big, expensive bet. The kind of bet that could make or break the company. And it's a bet that comes down to one factor: What is Gimlet's competitive advantage? As the company launches its fourth new show, "Surprisingly Awesome," we take a deep dive in to how the show was made.
We return to the offices of Gimlet for the start of a new mini-season. It's been a year since the company launched and things are changing... fast. In this episode, Alex and his wife, Nazanin, wrestle with a huge decision that has implications for both the company and their family.
A Gimlet update and a special announcement
Lessons learned in business and love. [more inside]
Under pressure, the Dating Ring founders make a big decision. [more inside]
Lauren and Emma visit the CEO Whisperer. [more inside]
A golden opportunity sows seeds of doubt
In online dating, love is not blind. How do deal with customers who make their dating choices based on race, and why the blind date business model didn't work. [more inside]
Inside Dating Ring's Matchmaking System [more inside]
With funding running low, customers growing irate, and themselves at odds, Dating Ring's founders find themselves in the trough of sorrow and undertake a radical rethink of the company's focus.
Picking up where the last episode left off, at YC's Demo Day, the women of Dating Ring start trying to raise money. At the post-Demo mixer, Emma gets her first (literal) brush with sexism when an investor gropes her and then offers her $50k. Subsequent meetings go better and they manage to raise $400k in angel funds while "riding the wave." Then the tide turns - the investors' questions start getting tougher, and the rejections pile up. The founders begin to wonder - how much of their struggle is due to quality of their product and pitch, and how much is just plain sexism?
We learn more about Dating Ring's experience in the highly competitive startup accelerator Y Combinator. Will they be in the 90% of YC companies that fail, or will they be the next Airbnb? [more inside]
First comes love...then comes equity StartUp is a podcast series about what it's really like to get a business off the ground. In Season 1, Alex Blumberg told the story of launching this business, Gimlet Media, a podcast network. In Season 2, Alex is joined by co-Host Lisa Chow, to follow an entirely new company. The business is Dating Ring, a dating company that combines technology with old-fashioned matchmaking. The founders are women in their 20s, outsiders in the male-dominated world of Silicon Valley. And over the 10 episodes, we'll take you inside that world. Some of the challenges they face are different from Alex's: founder disagreements, hellish fundraising, and sexism. But just like Gimlet's story, theirs is also a transparent account of something that happens everyday in America, but we rarely get to see firsthand: starting a business.
The final episode of Season 1. Alex reviews where he started and where the company is now. He talks to his insightful wife, Nazanin, and investor Chris Sacca. In the second half, Alex and Lisa introduce the company that will be featured in Season 2.
This installment addresses an a question that was brought up in earlier episodes, back before Gimlet was an actual business: are they a technology company or a content company? [more inside]
Alex learns the that the hardest thing about entrepreneurship is not the running business itself, but managing and supporting your employees.
Lessons on building an audience. [more inside]
Lessons on outgrowing your business plan. [more inside]
Gimlet Media addresses a company mistake. [more inside]